Twins’ summer sausage is back and it sparked yet another rally in Monday’s victory

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins’ rally summer sausage is back. Apparently, it never went away.

Two days after he suggested it was scheduled to be destroyed, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli revealed the team is still relying upon its famed summer sausage. With the offense struggling to score early in Monday’s game against Seattle Mariners pitcher Luis Castillo, Twins hitting coach David Popkins went to the clubhouse to retrieve the team’s good luck charm from a refrigerator to bring to the dugout.

Immediately, the Twins offense, which was 0-for-12 at the time, broke through with a pair of doubles and scored a run off Castillo. Two innings later, the Twins tacked on two more runs and beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 to win for the 13th time in 14 games. Though they previously planned to replace it with a fresh one, the Twins are suggesting they intend to give their sausage with its musty package and all a stay of execution.

“It’s alive,” Twins bench coach Jayce Tingler said. “You could smell the rank when we brought it out in the bottom of the fifth inning. As soon as we brought it out, we were on the board.”

Dormant for the first 20 games of the season, the Twins offense came to life in the first 10 games of a 12-game winning streak that was snapped on Sunday. The Twins scored 76 runs in that span, feasting on meaty pitches left over the plate by Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels pitching staffs.

Brought to the park by Kyle Farmer to be shared with teammates, the sausage didn’t appear until midway through an April 25 win over the White Sox in which the Twins rallied from two runs down, homering five times in a span of 16 batters.

The fact of the matter is the Twins simply put together better all-around bats than they did in the first part of the season. But ask anyone in the Twins clubhouse, which is now inundated with sausage paraphernalia, and they’ll tell you their resurgence was partly sausage-inspired.

“You’ve got to believe in something and we believe we’re playing really good baseball,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “We touch the sausage and we go out there super confident and good things happen.”

The Twins believed in the sausage enough to take it on a tour of America, first flying it to Southern California and then back to Chicago, all without ever refrigerating it. For the team flight from Southern California to the Windy City, catcher Ryan Jeffers put the sausage in a Ziploc bag and then efficiently stuffed it inside one of his shoes.

At that point, Baldelli expressed concerns that the sausage would spoil and perhaps start a worldwide health epidemic. He also promised the team would replace the sausage with a fresh one after the winning streak ended. Though a prominent sausage expert allayed Baldelli’s fears, suggesting the sausage could go for months as long as the packaging remained intact, the Twins began to refrigerate it after they returned home last Wednesday night.

Once the sausage made headlines, the Twins were inundated with offers from companies across the nation. During their current homestand, the Twins received boxes of summer sausages from team sponsor Sheboygan, squeezable rubber hot dogs from Oscar Meyer and even a 10-plus foot tall flag featuring the phrase “Our sausage hits” that was stationed in the coaches room.

But over the past four games, runs have been more difficult to come by as the Twins went up against the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, which entered Tuesday featuring the two lowest staff ERAs in baseball.

Despite myriad chances in Sunday’s streak-ending 9-2 loss, the Twins couldn’t come through in the clutch, wasting several key chances with runners in scoring position. Asked about it after the game, Baldelli said the sausage was ticketed for the garbage.

“It might be in the trash by now — honestly, where it belongs,” Baldelli said. “We can always get a new one. … The guys throwing sausage around will be ready to go. Trust me.”

Not so fast, Rocco.

Jeffers and Popkins — who’s officially been deemed the keeper of the encased meat — gave the sausage a second chance. Rather than listen to their manager, the duo overruled Baldelli and it reappeared Monday. The sausage also appeared early in Tuesday’s game at the tail end of a four-run rally when the Sausage King himself, Jeffers, blasted a three-run homer.

“As soon as we brought it out, we were on the board,” Tingler said.

In the midst of a perfect game, Castillo was no match for the power of the rally sausage. Max Kepler batted first in the fifth inning and hit a double off the bag at first base. Five pitches later, Correa doubled to right-center to produce the game’s first run.

Two innings later, Kepler walked and Correa doubled again, which ultimately led to two more runs.

“I asked whether it was destroyed, I think they told me no,” Baldelli offered up Monday when asked about the return of his red therapy light. “We didn’t score, we really didn’t do anything for the first half of that game (Monday) and I think someone might have grabbed it and brought it back to the dugout. I don’t know. You just look up and it’s there.”

Now, the question is whether or not the sausage will accompany the team to Canada later this week when the Twins play a weekend series at the Toronto Blue Jays. The team already has received warnings about the strict nature of Canadian customs and how the sausage potentially could be confiscated.

Knowing the potential for the loss of their omnipotent sausage, the Twins are considering alternatives, including purchasing a temporary kielbasa after landing in a town appropriately nicknamed “Hogtown” because of the amount of pork produced within city limits in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Whether or not the Twins bring their tangy treat to Toronto, they intend to keep it around for some time.

“RJ’s in charge of the sausage,” Correa said. “RJ decided it gets to stay. I don’t know why we have to throw it away because of one game. If it’s working, let’s keep rolling with it.”

(Photo of Ryan Jeffers celebrating his home run Tuesday with the sausage: David Berding / Getty Images)

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